In the years of yore, the distant past, Facebook was an underdog in the mobile market. Their presence in the mobile arena was slim at best. Over time, they have turned that weakness into strength, no doubt in part due to their successful mobile accessibility. More users than ever are using Facebook on mobile devices, and that has presented a great ad opportunity for the platform. Mobile ads account for as much as 60 percent of their revenue now.
In the past few days, at Facebook’s F8 conference, the company revealed a new scheme to boost the sales of mobile ads significantly. The program, known as the Facebook Audience Network, breaks the walls of Facebook ads and extends their power to other apps.
The Facebook Audience Network is a way for advertisers to use the power of Facebook targeted ads in apps that aren’t Facebook itself. With three formats – banner, interstitial and native – your ads can display exactly how you want them to. You don’t even need to make up new images and layouts; the same ads carry over effortlessly.
The Power of Facebook Ads
Facebook ads, both on their web platform and their mobile app, are exceedingly powerful. The reason for this is the accurate targeting they use. The Facebook custom audiences feature allows advertisers to make up specific audience groups using any of a number of metrics, including those who have visited your site recently and those who have installed your app. Standard demographics are included as well, such as behavioral data and information scraped from public profiles. It’s a quick and immediate way to access an audience that is already interested in your products, which is a proven way to revitalize interest and bring in sales.
The Facebook Audience Network maintains this functionality. All the power you’re used to with Facebook ads will now be available in other apps. Facebook’s audience is captive and engaged already, both through the web and through mobile devices. Of course, with all of the information people share through Facebook, the platform has an incredible wealth of possible audience metrics. Everything from the type of apps a person uses to the way they share links is a potential vector for targeting advertising.
The Facebook Audience Network
What, specifically, does the Audience Network do for you? In short, it extends the reach of your existing Facebook ad campaigns. Your ads will no longer be limited to the Facebook web and mobile platforms. You will be able to extend those advertisements to other mobile apps. Specifically other mobile apps that require a Facebook login to operate. This tie to Facebook will allow them to display your targeted ads with the same precision as with the custom audiences on the web.
The Audience Network is obviously quite beneficial to Facebook as well. First and foremost, it encourages advertisers to invest more heavily in Facebook ads. With a wider audience at stake, complete with the existing targeting power, it’s a no-brainer. Facebook is also encouraging app developers to include Facebook login integration with this move. Apps without Facebook integration can’t take advantage of the Audience Network.
Best of all, existing Facebook advertisers need to do very little to enroll in the program. It’s as simple as a single click for those who have already invested in news feed advertising. No new ad design is necessary.
Restrictions on the Platform
The Audience Network has only just launched, so it’s limited in its scope. According to Facebook itself, the program is currently limited to advertisers with one specific goal in mind; app installs and engagement. If your ads are designed to get people to install your app, perfect; you’re all ready to click a button and access that wider audience. If, on the other hand, you want to drive traffic to your website or sell your products, you’re going to have to wait.
Facebook also warns advertisers that, because the new system is in its infancy, performance will vary while they iron out the kinks. Early adopters will be testing the program through its faults, but they will also get to experience the new, wider exposure firsthand immediately. As the system rounds out with more advertisers and more ads, as well as more enrolled apps, performance will steadily increase.
Integration with Existing Technologies
This announcement comes on the heels of Twitter’s integration with MoPub, a company it acquired last year. MoPub actually plays quite well with Facebook’s network, just as it does with other ad networks. The Audience Network joins ranks with Millennial Media, AdMob and other networks manageable by the Twitter-owned suite.
The benefit of a suite like MoPub is the fact that there is no one ad network that is able to serve the right ad 100 percent of the time. There’s always a gap that can be filled by another advertiser with another network. Facebook’s network provides a new source of targeted ads to fill the gaps in existing networks, or vice versa – allows other networks to fill the gaps in Facebook targeting.
This relationship isn’t guaranteed to be golden forever, of course. It’s always possible that Facebook may find it lucrative to make exclusive deals with certain publishers. If Facebook chooses to make deals that exclude giants like Twitter, well, that’s their game. For now, no such deals are on the horizon, and the Audience Network is open to use.
Retargeting with the Audience Network
Facebook Retargeting is a big trend in advertising, allowing businesses to follow users with their ads. Anyone engaged enough to begin the product purchase process, but hesitant enough to back away, is an easy mark for a retargeted ad. Prior to the Audience Network, those retargeted ads were limited to the Facebook web platform and their mobile app presence.
Now, with the Audience Network, retargeted ads have a wider base of possible exposures. They show up through Facebook’s app, but they also can also show up in any app that uses a Facebook login. This greatly extends the reach – and this the effect – of retargeted ads.
All in all, the Facebook Audience Network is a powerful new tool to extend the reach of existing ad campaigns beyond the basic Facebook platforms. It’s poised to bring in plenty of revenue, both for Facebook and for its advertisers. With the extremely powerful Facebook custom audiences at your back, and the simple setup available to transition to the Audience Network, it’s a no-brainer decision to make the upgrade.